The Logic of Al-Kindi (185-252 AH – 801-866 CE)

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‘Through the assiduous study of mathematics and Aristole’s books it is possible to acquire knowledge of what is true.’

al-Kindi, Abu Yusuf Ya’qub ibn Ishaq (d. c.866-73)

Known as Yasqib Ibn Ishaq al-Kindi, Al Kindi is often referred to as the ‘first Islamic philosopher’ (or ‘first philosopher of the Arabs’), in as much as he actively studied the works of the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and offered a systematic approach to explaining the many topics relating to Islamic philosophy, which were extensively debated during his life-time. This included issues such as the nature of creation, immortality, the knowledge of god, and the subject of prophecy. Although not all of his ideas were accepted within the consensus of Islamic thinking, nevertheless, his ideas about immortality and the individual soul have stood the test of time, as has his ability to clearly discern and define human knowledge, as being distinct from ‘revealed’ knowledge. Although he fully embraced the agency of human knowledge, he never deviated from the idea that revealed (or ‘prophetic’) knowledge was superior, and in the final analysis, easier to attain.

Al Kindi was born in Basra (Iraq), and was educated in Baghdad, where he eventually served under caliphs al-Min’mun (813-833 CE), and al-Mu’tasim (833-842 CE) as a personal tutor, and was recognised as a preeminent astrologer. He studied Greek, Persian and Indian wisdom, and was responsible for Greek philosophical texts being imported into the State funded Academy in Baghdad, where they were carefully translated into Arabic, and studied by Islamic scholars. Al Kindi’s willingness to read widely, and learn from wisdom traditions outside of Islamic theology, led to the establishment of logic and reason within the Islamic tradition, whereby another layer of interpretive discourse was developed, through which Islamic theology could be interpreted. Al Kindi did not perceive this process as one culture invading (and displacing) another, but understood the different wisdom traditions as being representative of distinct methods of using the human mind to solve mundane and supramundane issues of human existence. This demonstrates that ‘difference’ can be accommodated without necessarily disrupting prevailing cultures or modes of thought (religious or otherwise).

Chris Pattern, the BBC and its Dangerous Lurch to the Right

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(This aticle first appeared in the New Worker – the newspaper of the New Communist Party of Britain [NCPB] in issue no. 1772 – Pages 6 – 7, dated the 25th of April, 2014)

Rightwing Tory, Chris Patten, the former Member of Parliament for Bath, was voted out of that office to tumultuous applause from the electorate, (both local and national), and was immediately rewarded for his failure by incumbent Conservative Prime Minister John Major, with the post of ‘Governor’ of Hong Kong. This diplomatic promotion got rid of an incredibly unpopular and odious Tory activist from the UK mainland, to the far-flung outer reaches of the rapidly collapsing British Empire. Although Hong Kong was no longer a colony but a ‘Protectorate’ by this time, the message of banishment was very clear. Indeed, so unpopular had Patten become that if he had retained his Parliamentary seat, it is probable that the usual sideways political promotion to ‘Minister for Northern Ireland’, (suitable for malcontents such as the committed racist Enoch Powell), would have been applied. His electoral defeat in 1992 saved the Tory Party from the direct and obvious repercussions of his unpopularity.

It is remarkable to note in passing that following New Labour’s landslide electoral victory in 1997, the toryite leader of the Labour Party – Tony Blair – actually chose to leave Chris Patten in place, presumably as his naturally rightwing political leanings, or so Blair thought, represented the New Labour ethos exactly. Of course, not to remain insular and Eurocentric about this serious matter, the British rightwing made use of Chris Patten to eulogise a dying idea of the despicable institution of ‘empire’, and inflicted Patten’s ignorance upon the Chinese people of Hong Kong, who had to continue to kowtow to the continuous injustices inflicted physically and psychologically upon them by the presence of foreign invaders, and their proselytising Judeo-Christian church. The measure of Chris Patten’s Eurocentric ignorance, racism, prejudice, and discriminative attitude, can be found with just a superficial reading of his memoirs of his time lording it over the Chinese people. He is unrepentant and fully committed to a ‘Little England’ mentality that simultaneously reduces the rest of the world to an uncivilised and as of yet unChristianised mess that is just waiting for people like him to save it from its own innate, inferior barbarism. It is true that by the time of his tenure, Hong Kong had been preparing for reversion back to Chinese rule for some time, and the British military and police forces were keeping a low profile so as not to antagonise the local Chinese population, or trigger the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from prematurely coming over the border and freeing the area by force. This followed Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s taking the automatic right to British Citizenship for Chinese British Subjects residing in ‘British’ Hong Kong, or already living and working in the UK. This racially motivated attack upon the British born Chinese community living in the UK (and their extended families living in Hong Kong), went unnoticed and generally unreported in the UK by the mainstream media, other than being applauded by the rightwing press for ‘limiting’ the further arrival of unwanted immigrants. This follows a trend of anti-Chinese legislation in the UK throughout the 20th century that saw the mass round-up and deportation of Chinese men from Liverpool in 1919, and London in 1946. Generally speaking, these were men who had volunteered to fight for the UK in its two wars against Germany. Their reward was deportation back to a chaotic China. This is the background, at least in part, to the political ideology that Chris Patten represents.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), was founded in 1922, and draws its sustaining finance from the paying of an obligatory licence fee by every adult who owns a television, or other device that can receive the BBC broadcasts. It is a criminal offense not to pay the yearly licence or subscription fee. Originally, as TV sets cost too much for the working class to afford, the BBC represented something of an exclusive middle and upper class gentleman’s club that fully reflected the exclusive bourgeois attitudes of its paying audience. At this time the illusion that the working class did not exist was maintained as the programming more or less continued the Greco-Roman myth of a life spent in cultivated leisure studying art, literature, and science, etc, whilst women were continuously told that their only worth lay in how they ran a house, so as to please their husband. When the working class could start to afford television sets, probably around the 1950’s, and usually through renting or hire-purchasing schemes, the licence fee was extended to include this new audience, although only in as much as the middle class values the BBC represented were now peddled to keep the working class viewers firmly in their place, and encouraged them to mimic (rather than fight) their social betters. Moving into the 1960’s and 1970’s, the BBC liberalised to a certain degree, but has never given-up its bourgeois foundation. This reflects the positive changes initiated throughout British society by the instigation of the 1948 Welfare State, and National Health Service. With the rise of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, the BBC began a decline in liberal impartiality that it has never recovered from, although as late as the early 2000’s, a British rightwing leader still chose to describe the BBC as ‘ultra-leftist’. Although it is true that the BBC’s children’s programming remains progressive, internationalist, and multicultural, its news outlet certainly is not.

The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party – both bourgeois, rightwing political entities, came to power with a minority government in May, 2010. Together, they have wreaked havoc and chaos on the British people with the dismantling of the Welfare State and the NHS, and their despicable attack on the disabled and the most vulnerable in UK society. The rightwing hatred and reign of terror that this ConDem coalition has unleashed has not been matched within the system of modern, civilised governance. It is no coincidence that Chris Patten was appointed Chairman of the BBC Trust in April 2011. As the ConDem government intended to make ideologically motivated cuts in welfare and health and as these cuts would cause unprecedented misery and suffering amongst the masses, the BBC had to be brought under control and its general approach for reporting news had to fall into line with government rhetoric. This ConDem rhetoric is obviously rightwing, being free-market led, and inherently pro-American. The poor and the vulnerable have had their healthcare and benefits stopped, so that the rich can have a pointless tax-cut to add to their millions. Where the BBC was once renowned for the accuracy of its reporting, it was recently found guilty of ‘lying’ about benefit statistics in one of its programmes supporting the vicious benefits cuts. In this respect the BBC joins both Channel 4 and Channel 5 in its institutional attack on the benefit system, and the weak and vulnerable who are made to live on it by an uncaring, greed infested bourgeois society. The irony here, as if another was needed, is that those who struggle on benefits must still pay a licence fee to receive a BBC media outlet that continuously reminds them that they are ‘scroungers, ‘scum’, and a ‘burden’ to British taxpayers.

Chris Patten’s malignant presence at the BBC is the invisible hand that controls its news output. He has whole-heartedly supported this rightwing ConDem administration with its attack on the British working classes. BBC TV and radio now acts as ‘one’, as if Chris Patten is the broadcasting pope, and the BBC his obeying church. Even the once respected BBC World Service sounds suspiciously like Fox News, and the BBC has now lurched so far to the right, that the historic reporting of its Welsh correspondent Jeremy Bowen, who exposed the deliberate mass killing of 408 Iraqi civilians – men, women, and children – who had taken cover from US Airforce bombing raids in the Amiriyah shelter, is a distant, and fading memory. The US military dropped two 2000 lbs, laser-guided bombs on to the civilian shelter, killing all inside, and were immediately supported (and applauded) by the rightwing press across the Western world. The US military casually dismissed the dead as ‘collateral’ damage, and stated that the bunker was used by the Iraqi military as a command and control centre. Jeremy Bowen immediately visited the Amiriyah area of Baghdad, and surveyed the massacre first-hand. His report was broadcast live on the BBC stating clearly that there was no military equipment present and all that he had seen were piles of dead bodies of men, women, and children. The British Sun Newspaper immediately called for Jeremy Bowen to be tried as a traitor; such is the ignorance of the rightwing. Unfortunately, it is exactly through this narrow-minded and shallow reasoning that the BBC is now run by Chris Patten. It is ironic to think that the vast majority of the British victims of its anti-working class rhetoric are paying for its output.

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